Forty of Asheville’s outstanding young professionals will be the star of the show on Thursday, Sept. 26 when the The Biltmore Beacon will be hosting its ninth annual 40 Under Forty gala.

The awards banquet will honor 40 Asheville residents who have made a difference in their respective fields who truly go above and beyond.

The honorees for 2019 are Alaina Nelson, Allison Schmidt, Anderson Ellis, Anna Frank. Benjamin Mitchell, Brandon Maynard, Collin George, Dana Frankel, David Dowd, Erin Renwick, Erin Riley, Gregory Robel, Jared Bellmund, Jennifer Nicolaisen, Jeremy Cloninger, Jessica Bryant, Jill Queen, John Judd Jr., Jon Jones, Joshua English, Justin Blythe, Karla Furnari, Katie Kestner, Lindsey Yemc, Mandy Kutschied, Martha Bradley, Melissa George, Michaela Schmidlin, Molly Maynard, Murphy Fletcher, Myra Jordan, Nick Ficker, Patrick Johnson, Ryan Guthy, Ryan Krishnan, Shane Nickle, Shannon Paris, Stacey Klimchuk, Tamara Bernazky-Alm, and Whitney Whitson.

“The Biltmore Beacon’s 40 under Forty Leadership Awards Banquet continues to acknowledge individuals who truly stand out in the community,” said Jonathan Key, president, and publisher of Mountaineer Publishing Inc. “It shines a light on the honorees who are making an impact in their field and a difference in their community but may otherwise go unnoticed.”

A banquet and awards ceremony will be held from 7-9 p.m. with a cash bar/social hour beginning at 6 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore, located at 115 Hendersonville Road in Asheville.

“Were very pleased and excited to be at DoubleTree again this year. Their staff has been so accommodating and easy to work with,” said Keri Hill, advertising and event coordinator for Mountaineer Publishing Inc. “We feel it is a great opportunity to be able to host the event within the Biltmore community, and DoubleTree provides the perfect setting.”

The evening will begin at 6 p.m. with a social hour where guests can mingle and network. Dinner begins at 7 p.m. and features a keynote speech and an awards ceremony.

The keynote speaker this year will be Jael Rattigan, the CEO and Founder of French Broad Chocolates.

“We are very excited to have Jael Rattigan as the guest speaker this year,” Hill said. “She is a passionate entrepreneur and she and her husband have been hugely successful in creating wonderful businesses in Asheville.”

Jael and her husband Dan have built French Broad Chocolate with a mission to “make awesome chocolate sourced with integrity, crafted with love and served with gratitude.”

The Rattigans are chocolate experts, having lived and worked in the cacao-rich rainforest of Costa Rica for two years, owning Bread and Chocolate restaurant there, while developing sources for local chocolate.

They moved to Asheville in 2006 to pursue their “passion for all things chocolate,” and started French Broad Chocolate in 2007. The French Broad Chocolate Lounge opened in 2008.

After the lounge was such a huge hit, in 2018, the Rattigans opened up a French Broad Chocolate factory to offe tours that educate customers while providing a fun chocolate experience.

All of the 40 Under Forty honorees have been nominated from places of employment and/or service organizations. They are all 39 years of age or younger, live or work in the greater Asheville area and show the potential to be a leader in the business community for years to come.

The class selected for 40 Under Forty this year is an impressive one, consisting of dozens of people who have excelled in their positions and communities.

“Each year this event gets bigger and better as more people about it and want to be a part of it,” said Hill.

In addition to acknowledging the accomplishments of the nominees, the event has proven to be a way for nominees to develop new friendships and build a network of contacts.

“We all have a responsibility, beyond what we do, to improve the lives of those around us who are less fortunate than we are,” said Key. “We hold this event in hopes these young entrepreneurs will connect with each other and, as a group, have a greater impact on the community than they would individually.”

For more information, visit Be sure to like and follow The Biltmore Beacon on Facebook to stay updated on the event.


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